Originally published in The Mac Weekly.
With 116 student organizations, Macalester is known for its engaged
student body. However, the number of student organizations may be
creating a problem—too many events.
The problem is made all the more
pressing by the onset of April, a month known at Macalester for its
number of student organization events. The College Events Calendar lists
27 separate events this month.
“All of the events going on are good,”
said Natalie Pavlatos ’12, the Chair of the Student Organizations
Committee (SOC) of MCSG. “I think the bigger problem stems from
coordination and planning with other organizations to the point. You’ve
got three events going on at the same time and it is physically
impossible to go to all of them.”
Her likely successor blames a lack of
“I think the real problem with event planning… is that
people really just don’t know or don’t care to seek out what other
organizations are doing,” said Jeff Garcia ’14, an officer in several
student organizations and the sole candidate on the ballot for SOC Chair
next year. “They don’t communicate with each other. There are rivalries
within these groups for resources. That’s not how it should be,” Garcia
It is difficult to quantify the scope of the problem.
we hear so much about all these well-run events, and you never really
hear when an event goes awry,” Pavlatos noted. “We very rarely hear
about it when they do because it’s kind of an embarrassment I think. No
one wants to, when asked how your event went, say ‘No-one showed up’ or
‘This didn’t work,’ but having run orgs in the past I know there are
going to be events where one person shows up, or two people show up, or
just your friends.”
Students for a Free Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet Students for a Free Tibet
(SFT) has faced exactly the situation Pavlatos described. The group, a
student organization working to raise awareness of the challenges facing
Tibet, hosted a documentary screening last November in John B Davis
Lecture Hall. To advertise, the group largely relied upon table tents,
according to Karina Li ’14, the group’s Co-Chair. About 10 people showed
up, mostly members of SFT.
“We were hoping it would be better, but we
really didn’t have a whole lot of [optimism],” Li said.
The group tried
again a month later. They decided to bring Jigme Ugen, the
President of the Tibetan Youth Congress of Minnesota, to campus. This
time around, they expanded their advertising campaign. The group chalked
the sidewalks, submitted to the Daily Piper, made a Facebook event,
distributed posters, and prominently placed images of self-immolating
Tibetan monks along the sidewalk between the Campus Center and the
library. About 50 people showed up to that event, including students
from neighboring schools and local community members.
One of the
problems with the documentary screening was the timing, a Friday. In
contrast, Ugen visited Macalester on a Wednesday night.
movie on a Friday, it definitely wouldn’t be as much attendance, because
people have other plans,” noted SFT member Rachel Karlov ’14.
believe that the type of event drives turnout. The group plans to shift
away from documentary screenings in the future toward more engaging
events like speakers.
“I think that now we might not bother with
[screenings and] the movie rights anymore, because it’s just too much
money,” noted Li.
Mac Christian Fellowship
SFT is not the only group to
have difficulties with documentary screenings. Mac Christian Fellowship
(MCF), a religious student organization, has faced similar challenges.
Last Sunday the group hosted a documentary screening with 8 people in
attendance. Most of those attending had helped plan the event.
aren’t going to show up to a documentary screening unless you’re already
interest in it,” said Rebecca Boylan, an officer in MCF.
the group organized a more successful event two weeks ago. Titled
“Christians Apologize for Our Failures,” the event featured Christian
students publicly apologizing for both individual failings and broader
problems within the Christian faith. About thirty people attended, and
the event sparked conversations afterwards, including an opinion piece
in The Mac Weekly.
Boylan believes part of the reason the Christians
Apologize event succeeded and the documentary screening faltered were
differences in preparation. The screening only had table tents
advertising it for one day before the event and a Facebook event two
days before. In contrast, the Christians Apologize event utilized
sandwich boards outside the Campus Center, posters, the Daily Piper and a
Both Pavlatos and Garcia believe Scot Sync is
a useful tool to counter some of the problems facing events at Mac.
However, Scot Sync is used by few organizations for anything besides
budgeting each semester.
“If you use some of the utilities on Scot Sync,
the College Events calendar, reservations, really a lot of these
problems could be settled with foresight,” Pavlatos said.
signing up for email accounts and 1600 Grand, Scot Sync should be put
out as a resource as one of the first things students are introduced
to,” Garcia added. “It will hopefully get more students involved.”
org leaders are skeptical. Both SFT and MCF are planning future events.
SFT will have a veteran activist in the Free Tibet movement speaking on
campus in mid-April, while MCF is hosting a petting zoo this Saturday to
raise awareness of and funds for Heifer International, a Christian
charity. While both groups are mindful of other orgs’ programming, they
do not plan to use Scot Sync for their respective events.
“I don’t know
anyone that uses Scot Sync,” Boylan said. “It seems like a Facebook for
orgs, but there’s [already] an actual Facebook.”
Still, Boylan does note
that she would use Scot Sync if other student orgs and leaders within
MCF began to use the tool.
“We would use Scot Sync if more people at Mac
knew about it [and] knew how to use it,” Li added. “I think it will
just take time for it to catch on. Right now it’s not very effective."